CAROLINE ROFFMAN, USA DRESSAGE RIDER, IS FEI 2010 “RISING STAR”
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Caroline Roffman, a dressage rider from the United States, was named the 2010″Rising Star” by the International Equestrian Federation at a glittering banquet at the FEI General Assembly in Taipei Friday night.
Caroline, 22, who lives in Wellington, Florida, is one of America’s most accomplished up and coming equestrians, competing in the senior ranks after success as a Junior and Young Rider.
“I am so honored and excited,” she said of the award supported by HSBC that is in its second year and for which winners are chosen from nominations from around the world by an international panel. “It’s unbelievable.
“Ever since I was eight years old I knew what I wanted to do. I would watch Anky (van Grunsven) and Isabell (Werth) on a VHS tape and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I was riding Thoroughbreds off the track. I had no idea what I was doing, but I dreamed that one day I would be like them.
“When you receive something like this it is so rewarding. It’s what makes you get up in the morning, to go through the good times and the bad times. When you get rewarded for the hard work and the effort, this is the icing on the cake. It makes me feel like I’m where I want to be.”
She was presented with the award by Princess Haya, newly re-elected as president of the worldwide governing body of horse sports.
She successfully came up through the ranks of the Junior and Young Rider programs. In her first year as a Young Rider, Caroline qualified and competed at the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships on Bulgari 5, winning three bronze medals and the Fiona Baan Memorial Trophy for the highest placed rider throughout the competition. Caroline also competed at the historic U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey as a Young Rider with both Rigaudon and Accent Agiu FRH, placing third in 2009 and fourth in 2008.
She and her Hanoverian Bon Chance were Reserve Champion in the U.S. National Four-Year-Old division in 2009 and won the Five-Year-Old Championship in 2010.
While Caroline jokes that she met Bon Chance by chance, it was a pairing destined for success.
“Lars Petersen, had purchased him with another one of his clients as an investment horse to train, show and later resell,” Caroline said. “My first impression of Bon Chance was not what you would expect. I saw him as they were unloading him from the trailer and thought that he was a scrawny, unfortunate looking little three-year-old. Not long after I began riding him, however, I realized how full of talent and character he was. He is very smart and learns easily but can be a challenge to train and ride because of his sensitivity.”
As a goal-oriented rider, Caroline aims to compete Bon Chance in the Six-Year-Old divisions in 2011 with hopes of qualifying him for the World Young Horse Championships in Verden, Germany.
She has two eight-year-old horses, Lux, that she hopes to compete at Grand Prix in the Brentina Cup that is designed to help riders make the transition between Young Riders and seniors, and Pie coming back from an injury that she plans to compete at small tour for the U.S. Developing Horse Championships.
And if the United States is invited to compete in the Under-25 Nations Cup that was inaugurated at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, in 2010 she hopes to qualify Pie to be on the American team as “the ultimate goal of the year.”
While Caroline is serious about her riding, she has a humorous side.
“In the past years of my riding I have ridden a significant amount of young horses, naughty horses and young naughty horses,” she said. In all those years I was lucky enough, and apparently sticky enough, to manage not falling off. Last year a few days before we headed to Chicago for the Young Horse Championships, Bon Chance managed to put me face down in the arena.
“As I lay in our very cushy arena picking rubber out of my hair, mouth and pants, Bon Chance managed to run two miles (3.2km) away down our road. Both Bon Chance and I were perfectly fine and headed off to the championships with one newly added piece of equipment–Geunter Sitz, or Sticky, as I fondly call it. And now every time I write my checklist of items to pack for a show, first and foremost on my list is sticky!”
Caroline has always known she wanted to be a dressage rider, but has also dedicated her life to helping horses. She won the Volunteer of the Month award from Pure Thoughts Horse & Foal Rescue in Wellington. Caroline has adopted two foals from Pure Thoughts, and has written countless letters to companies on behalf of the rescued horses.
“I think many adults could learn a few tips from this terrific young lady. I do believe if there were more Carolines in our younger generation, the future would be brighter for our equine friends,” said Jennifer Swanson, founder of Pure Thoughts.
Caroline grew up in Massachusetts and took part in hunter paces and pony club events as a child. “At 10 my mom thought I was ready for my first horse, an older bay gelding in his 20’s named Dijon,” Caroline said, adding that from then on she was hooked on dressage.
During her career, Caroline has ridden with a handful of trainers including Carin Zucherro, her original trainer in Massachusetts, Jill Weinstein, Lynne Kimball-Davis–whom Caroline credits with introducing her to “Big Dressage,” Silke Rembacz, who started Caroline’s FEI career by finding her horses including Bulgari 5 and getting her miles in the show ring. Danish Olympian Lars Petersen, whom she describes as “gifted in training horses like no one else,” is her current trainer,
“Every single trainer I have worked with I am still friends with. They still watch me ride and are supportive.”
Although Caroline has experienced success as a rider, she and her horses have experienced heartbreaks and disappointments, including injury, sickness and other setbacks.
“Bulgari 5 was the best horse I ever had. We trained for the Young Rider and Junior Horse division in 2006 and ended up finishing the division with an average in the 70s,” she said.
A severe tendon injury during the awards ceremony, the last day of competition at the 2006 NAYRC nearly ended his career.
“I thought he was finished. I was devastated and thought he would never be sound again,” she said. “I retired him and he spent two years out in the pasture. As time passed, Bulgari looked like he was feeling better. My mom and Silke encouraged me to see if he could be brought back slowly.”
Caroline slowly and carefully reconditioned Bulgari back into top form. Their persistence was rewarded with qualification for the 2010 USEF Festival of Champions in Gladstone, New Jersey.
She enjoys activities other than horses. “I love to travel and try new things. I have a whole list of things I want to see and do,” she said, adding that a non-horsey trip to Europe and an African Safari top the list. “I am also trying to learn from my dad who is in real estate and building.
Life with horses?
“Oh, yes. Otherwise I would have paid more attention in school. Without a doubt.
“I’ve known that for many years. I don’t know what else I could do. I love it too much.”